Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It was worth it

We didn't know when we got up at 5 a.m. and drove for an hour and hiked with flashlights for half-a-mile more that we would run into 20 people already set up for the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands.

And we didn't know that it would be a space so small that only the early few would get the prime shots as the sun would light the underside of the arch and the canyons and rock formations in the valley below.

Or that people from Norway and Japan, India and Texas would be vying for the shots past rows of photographers who'd set up tripods already an hour before and that by sunrise there would be more than dozens, there would be hundreds.

But we had our muffins and orange juice and could last all the way until the others had gotten their shots.

And it was worth it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse

It was all about the sun that day, starting with first light over the mountains as we headed north from Utah to Idaho.

Despite what we'd feared after hearing months of build-up preceding the Great American Eclipse, traffic was clear along the back roads through Preston, Star Valley and Swan Valley.

Entrepreneurs were everywhere, but takers seemed light. 

Before the action started, we could look at sunspots visible through my brother-in-law's telescope.

The sun was too much -- even when partially covered by the moon -- for my lens to make sense of. Covering it with my eclipse glasses didn't help, but looking at shadows did.

I heard in some places it was really quiet during totality. We couldn't help exclaim -- and loudly -- at the beautiful aura that was visible when the moon fully blocked the sun. Different exposures show different things -- what was closest to what our eyes saw is the third one.

It was the drive home when we learned that, yes, people really did turn out for the celestial show. What should have been a four-hour drive took nine.

But it was worth it. To see something we hadn't seen in 60 years of living.
And again the sun made an impression at the end of the day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

MTC and its missionaries

              Tall ceilings, big windows, inspiring photos and motivational quotes bring many forms of light into the new Missionary Training Center facilities built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
              But what is even more impressive than the buildings are the young people who come here.
On the self-guided tour, young men and young women stood at every corner, guiding visitors along the marked path.
Their smiles welcomed us, and they were anxious and willing to share where they were from and where they were going.
They were from Ogden, from Idaho Falls, from Seattle, to name a few. They were going to Las Vegas, southern California, South Korea, and places beyond.
They would be gone from their families and friends, their schooling and jobs, for 18 months to two years.
They would be representing their church all over the world, even places where people didn’t have the time or the interest to hear their message.
We saw them at work in classrooms, in lobbies practicing questions and answers, in courtyards studying individually.
And they seemed genuinely happy.
The tour went through the old facility, built in the mid-70s, and still an important part of the campus.
Visitors saw the cafeteria, the dorm rooms, a large meeting room and an entry lobby with its first-edition Book of Mormon. They saw the halls that featured the map where it is traditional for missionaries to be photographed pointing to their assigned area, photos of mission presidents, and art featuring scripture stories and thoughtful messages.
They then were guided between more buildings and past more tree- and message-lined walkways and an open courtyard, to the new facilities, two six-story buildings.
Informational plaques, such as one indicating the campus can now train 3,700 missionaries, were dotted along the route.
The tour took visitors past large classrooms, a gymnasium, a meeting room and halls lined with photographs with messages of encouragement and faith. Large windows brought more light to the space.
And so did the faces of the young people studying there.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Through another's eyes

Sometimes he's a little bit hard to understand.

Though he is speaking English, it is heavily accented and sometimes you have to listen very hard.

But it's worth it.

Because he always has something interesting to say.

This time especially.

This time he was telling me about his trip to Europe and his visit to the museum in Amsterdam and the chance to see the work of Peter Paul Rubens.

Ben is an artist. He sketches and paints, mostly portraits.

So he knows good art when he sees it.

And he, more than the rest of us perhaps, appreciates it.

He told about one painting that was as big as the wall, and he went over to a wall and showed me with his arms making large motions, just how big that painting as big as a wall was.

And then he told about some of the things he saw when he looked at it, and how he could have looked at it all day long.

And he positively glowed when talking about that painting and that day.

And then he talked of how impressive it was that those artists could paint small figures in their paintings with amazing detail. And he picked up a pen and showed me how small with his fingers at the end of the pen, and talked about how difficult it is to do small details with paint on canvas even with a small brush because the paint -- and he couldn't think of the word so he showed me with his fingers what the paint does -- and the only word I could think of was smushes.

But I believed him about how hard it is to paint small figures on canvas because he is an artist.

He was all smiles as he recounted his time at the museum, because he had seen something so amazing done by someone with such talent, and because he of all people know how amazing the art and how talented the artist.

And I was all smiles because I am quite sure that when I go to museums I miss most everything that he was telling me about but all of the sudden I wasn't missing it anymore. Even from a distance.

And it was not just a Thursday afternoon conversation at the gallery that day Ben came to tell me about his trip.

It was a gift.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June sunsets

From my office window, I watch the sun progress north from spring to summer, then move south again into fall, when it passes a hill nearby and goes out of view in the evenings.

This week, it is in its northernmost position, if I understand the system correctly. It will start moving south again now. One thing's for sure: I will keep watching.

June 13:

June 15:

June 21:

In these views, the sun is setting behind Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Looking up

Most moments come unexpectedly. You're looking down and around and then you hear something that makes you look up.

And you're transported.

Flying. Freedom. Fresh air.


Thursday, April 13, 2017


Beaches and palms, sunsets and sea life, sailboats and blossoms, warm Aloha and crashing waves ... nothing like a getaway to Hawaii. With help from my Pacific-islands-loving parents, it has come to feel like home.